Muscle Sport Magazine

NPC Empire States Spotlight: P.J. Braun

Fairfield, Connecticut native Philip Drew Braun Jr. grew up with the dream of playing in the NFL but came to the realization at an early age that he didn’t have the size for it. Once high school and those ‘Friday Night Lights’ were put out, Braun may have given up the helmet and pads but had already taken to weight training.

P.J. initially started out in powerlifting and was successful, but decided that his ultimate goal was standing in the winner’s circle on the bodybuilding stage. At 22, he entered his first competition and placed fifth as a novice light heavyweight at the 2003 Atlantic States.

“I was the youngest in the class,” Braun wrote on his official website, www.pjbraun.com. “Success. This felt amazing and I was now addicted to the sport for life.”

Two top-three finishes in a row gave Braun the confidence that he needed to make the commitment to take it to the next step. He took off nearly two years to add some size to his frame and came back at 220 pounds for the 2006 Junior USA, where he finished what he described as a “controversial” fourth. A week later, Braun won the New England Bodybuilding Championships with a heavy heart. “Two days prior to the show, John Stavidris, one of my best friends, had passed away,” wrote Braun. “That winning moment was so surreal. It will live with me forever.”

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Since then, Braun has finished 11th at the 2007 IFBB North American Championships and 9th at the same show a year later. He then was victorious at the 2008 NPC Atlantic City Amateur as the super-heavyweight and overall champion.

Braun is also one third of the famous Brat Pack along with Evan Centopani and Guy Cisternino. P.J. is the last one without a pro card, so he is keeping good company and on his way to joining his mates before too long.

This is part of an exclusive series by MuscleSport Mag on the 2009 NPC Empire States for which we are one of the show’s official sponsors. The show will take place on Saturday, July 18 in Suffern, New York.

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